Log4j - The AutoVue Support Engineer's Weapon Of Choice
By Graham McKendry on Jun 30, 2010
I've been trying to track down the origin of the word "troubleshooting" to see just how literal it is. Is it really a good practice to solve a problem by actually "shooting" the "trouble"? In the software world, I'm sure that most IT & System Admins would say 'yes'. From a Customer Support perspective however, we need to take a more gracious (and legal) approach.
AutoVue's "Client/Server" Deployment (previously known as "Web Version") has for quite some time included Apache's Log4j mechanism (http://logging.apache.org/log4j/1.2). This provides extensive capabilities to monitor and capture internal messages from the AutoVue server in order to debug and resolve server-side issues.
The AutoVue Support team often uses Log4j as one of the first steps in analyzing a reported AutoVue server issue. Up until AutoVue version 19.3.x, this was a... "lengthy" process, as AutoVue's default Log4j configuration was admittedly far from optimal.
With AutoVue 20, we've really improved the default Log4j configuration that ships with the product, making the troubleshooting process much more efficient. In February I wrote an Oracle knowledge base article that explains some of the new improvements & tricks; check out KM Note 1060283.1 in the My Oracle Support portal (https://support.oracle.com/CSP/main/article?cmd=show&type=NOT&doctype=BULLETIN&id=1060283.1).
If you haven't had a chance to read through the KM Note, or if you don't have access to the Support portal, here's a quick summary of some of the key Log4j changes in AutoVue 20:
- Rolling appenders now work!! Seriously!
- Lots of different appender examples in the config file
- Can now dynamically change logging level during runtime (no more need to stop the server)
- Output (at least for the File and Rolling appenders) is now defaulted as an XML layout
That last point also enables us to use Apache "Chainsaw" (http://logging.apache.org/chainsaw/index.html) as our primary tool for viewing Log4j output... much, much easier than reading through a text file.
There are plenty of other cool tricks with Log4j, for example the ability to have the AutoVue server send you email notifications in the event of a serious error. And it's not a purely reactive capability - AutoVue's Log4j output can also be used for proactive server monitoring.
If you're an AutoVue server Admin, I encourage you to familiarize yourself with Log4j and how to use it in your AutoVue deployment. As much as you may sometimes want to literally shoot the trouble, you've got some powerful tools with AutoVue that allow you to troubleshoot issues in a safer way.